perma-model

What Is PERMA Model? The PERMA Model In A Nutshell

The PERMA model was created by American psychologist and educator Martin Seligman. The PERMA model is a framework for happiness and wellbeing based on positive psychology through five elements: positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.

Understanding the PERMA model

In 1998, Seligman used his inaugural address as the new president of the American Psychological Association to call for a paradigm shift in psychology. Until that point, the industry focused on relieving human suffering through the understanding and treatment of mental health disorders and maladaptive behaviors.

However, reducing the suffering of someone with poor mental health is not the same as wellbeing – after all, these individuals want to be able to thrive instead of merely existing. In response, Seligman shifted the focus to what was good and positive in life with a simple model defining the elements of a meaningful existence.

This approach is now known as positive psychology, where the ultimate goal is to make life worth living by defining, quantifying, and creating wellbeing in individuals. 

The five elements of the PERMA model

To synthesize the positive psychology approach into a theory, Seligman defined five elements. 

Each element is intrinsically motivating and contributes to wellbeing, and each should be pursued for its own sake and measured independently.

Following is a look at the five elements which also comprise the PERMA acronym.

1 – Positive emotion (P) 

Positive emotions are a prime indicator of a flourishing individual and happily, these can be cultivated or learned. Examples include joy, love, compassion, fulfillment, hope, interest, amusement, and gratitude. 

It’s important to note that positive emotion is more nuanced than simply feeling happy or flashing a great smile. For example, a person may feel happy after accepting their tortured past while looking to the future with renewed hope.

2 – Engagement (E) 

Most people have experienced getting lost in a good book or movie and losing all sense of time. Engagement is very similar to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow, where the individual lives in the present moment by focusing completely on a moderately difficult task. 

Engagement can be encouraged by the individual participating in activities they love or remaining in the present moment using a technique such as mindfulness. Positive psychology also suggests spending time in nature and identifying one’s own character strengths.

3 – Positive relationships (R)

Human beings have a natural desire to connect with others and be part of a tribe, group, organization, school, or circle. In fact, social connections have been found to play a role in preventing cognitive decline and increasing physical health.

Well-being can also be increased through the strengthening or maintaining of intimate relationships. This may involve simple actions like sharing good news or responding enthusiastically to the presence of others.

4 – Meaning (M)

Many psychologists believe happiness and wellbeing result from a creative and meaningful life, and not from the blind pursuit of material wealth and pleasure. Seligman defined meaning as life purpose, where the individual devotes their life to something greater than themselves.

Meaning is guided by personal values and as a result, will be different for everyone. For instance, an environmentalist may find meaning by volunteering at an organization that plants trees and conserves animals. Many others find meaning in their religious beliefs or professions.

Wherever meaning is found, however, those with a sense of purpose live longer and have greater life satisfaction.

5 – Accomplishment (A) 

The PERMA model suggests a sense of accomplishment results when individual works toward their goals and achieves mastery, competence, or success. 

Accomplishment should be pursued for its own sake and should not be seen as a means to an end. Indeed, many individuals will find achieving their goals more satisfying because of the sometimes unpleasant process of working toward something.

Goals can be set in any context, including in the workplace, on the sports field, or in the development of a craft, hobby, or interest.

Key takeaways:

  • The PERMA model is a framework for happiness and wellbeing based on positive psychology. It was developed by American psychologist and educator Martin Seligman.
  • Fundamental to the PERMA model is positive psychology, a relatively new domain in psychology involving the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. Positive psychology differs from traditional psychology, which tends to focus on mental illness with and maladaptive behavior.
  • The PERMA model is comprised of five elements: positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. Each element contributes to well-being, is pursued for its own sake, and is defined and measured independently of other elements.

Connected Business Frameworks

six-thinking-hats-model
The Six Thinking Hats model was created by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1986, who noted that personality type was a key driver of how people approached problem-solving. For example, optimists view situations differently from pessimists. Analytical individuals may generate ideas that a more emotional person would not, and vice versa.
value-stream-mapping
Value stream mapping uses flowcharts to analyze and then improve on the delivery of products and services. Value stream mapping (VSM) is based on the concept of value streams – which are a series of sequential steps that explain how a product or service is delivered to consumers.
affinity-grouping
Affinity grouping is a collaborative prioritization process where group participants brainstorm ideas and opportunities according to their similarities. Affinity grouping is a broad and versatile process based on simple but highly effective ideas. It helps teams generate and then organize teams according to their similarity or likeness.
fishbone-diagram
The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, thus it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.
scamper-method
Eighteen years later, it was adapted by psychologist Bob Eberle in his book SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development. The SCAMPER method was first described by advertising executive Alex Osborne in 1953. The SCAMPER method is a form of creative thinking or problem solving based on evaluating ideas or groups of ideas.
mece-framework
The MECE framework is an exhaustive expression of information that must account for all conceivable scenarios. While the framework is used in categorizing information and data processing, it is commonly used in formulating problems and then solving them. The MECE framework is a means of the exhaustive grouping of information into categories that are both mutually exclusive (ME) and collectively exhaustive (CE).
nadler-tushman-congruence-model
The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model was created by David Nadler and Michael Tushman at Columbia University. The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a diagnostic tool that identifies problem areas within a company. In the context of business, congruence occurs when the goals of different people or interest groups coincide.
lewins-change-management-model
Lewin’s change management model helps businesses manage the uncertainty and resistance associated with change. Kurt Lewin, one of the first academics to focus his research on group dynamics, developed a three-stage model. He proposed that the behavior of individuals happened as a function of group behavior.

Main Free Guides:

Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"